By the time I walk into the gym I’ve already been anticipating getting my heart rate up, gripping the iron, and feeling my body come alive. I’m pumped for some crazy gym love. And I know my approach and goals.
On this particular day I’m training my favorite muscle group – back. Earlier in the day I’d asked my Twitter community what it is about back day that feels so crazy good. I heard, “It feels powerful.” “You can go super heavy.” “Women hold tension in their upper backs and it feels good to release it.”
I resonate with all these reasons why back day rocks. And while we don’t see them every day, strong back muscles protect you from injury, maintain good posture, and serve as prime movers for your day-to-day movements. If your back muscles aren’t strong when they need to be, other muscles will kick in and overcompensate. Repeat after me: “Muscle imbalances lead to injuries.”
If my gym had nice, hard foam rollers I would foam roll my IT band and IFL, lats, quads, and adductors. But since they don’t, I do fast elliptical for five minutes pumping my arms.
Chin ups. I consider chin ups to be primarily a killer biceps exercise, but since they’re so challenging I do them first while I’m fresh.
I’ve been slacking on chin ups lately. I can only do two or three right now but am working back up to four and beyond by practicing them at home. See? If you don’t keep progressing, well… you go backwards.
Inverted Row. The straighter your body, the harder these are. 6 reps x 4 sets
Assisted Pull ups. I’ve changed my form for pull ups. I do them slowly with a two-second pause at the scapulae contraction, pulling my chest to the top with my hips forward. A slow tempo and pause means using a lot less weight, in case you’re wondering. 6 x 4
Narrow-grip Cable Row. Again, I do these slowly with a pause at the contraction, squeezing my scapulae together. Many times I’ll do the narrow-grip pull down instead of the cable row. 6 x 4
Bent-over Barbell Row. I could go super heavy with these but instead choose to go slow and pause for a great burn. Try these with a reverse grip too. 6 x 4
You’ll notice that I didn’t include deadlifts in my workout, and they’re considered one of the best back exercises. That’s because they have bothered my low back in the past, but I’m working on adjustments to make them feel better.
Incidentally, your low back is trained with lower body exercises such as stiff-legged deadlifts, back extensions, hip extensions, and many others. There’s no need to train it separately.
Now for Biceps
I’m feeling fatigued by now but know I must get through biceps. I’m not saying this approach is ideal; I fully admit that my biceps are tired by this point. But I consciously slack on biceps overall… Most biceps exercises hurt my right elbow so I don’t enjoy them. I rely on back exercises and a couple of quickie biceps exercises to do the trick. If I decide I want bigger “peaks” I’ll have to train biceps on a different day and step it up.
Barbell Drag Curls. These are brutal and I’ve heard they really deliver results. You won’t be able to keep your elbows by your sides; let them flare out while you drag the barbell up and down your body. 8 x 3
Abs. I added a few abs exercises at the end of this workout – side plank (60 sec per side), reverse crunch, and ball crunch (3 x 25).
After my killer, 1-½ hour workout, I hit the stretching area. Again, I would foam roll but why bother with soft foam rollers? I spend five minutes static stretching my entire body.
I’m done! I leave with very fatigued muscles but lots of energy. My Nirvana is complete. Now it’s time for a banana, a protein shake, and a big meal.
(A big thanks to my friend and workout partner Amy for her excellent photography using a not-so-excellent camera!)
By the way – My Facebook fan Carin gave me the idea for this post. If you have an idea you’d like to see me write about, stop by and say so!